Melbourne’s East West link fast-tracked with $1.5bn federal funding boost

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The Guardian: Melbourne’s East West link fast-tracked with $1.5bn federal funding boost. Tuesday 29 April 2014

Stage two extension from Eastern Freeway to Western Ring Road to make drive from Geelong 15 to 20 minutes faster

Denis Napthine and Tony Abbott announce the $1.5bn boost for stage two of Melbourne’s East West link. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP
The federal government will allocate $1.5bn to fast-track the second stage of Melbourne’s East West link road project.

The commitment comes on top of $1.5bn of federal funds already allocated for the first stage of the $8bn project.

The money, together with further funds to be detailed in the Victorian budget, will enable the completion of the road project, according to a joint statement by the Victorian and federal governments.

The premier, Denis Napthine, said it was a fantastic result. “In the state budget next week we will be able to announce that East West link stage two, the western section, will be built by a coalition government here in Victoria,” he said.

Tony Abbott said he wished to leave a legacy worthy of the title of the infrastructure prime minister.

The East West link was a vital project to alleviate pressure on the “choke point” of Melbourne, he said.

“If we want to liberate people from the tyranny of hours and hours spent in traffic jams this is exactly what this city, this state needs,” Abbott said.

He said the project would provide a permanent boost to the Victorian economy.

Napthine said some land would need to be acquired for construction of the second phase of the 18km road, but a large part of it would be in light industrial areas.

“We’ll certainly be looking to minimise private property acquisition,” he said.

Construction on the $6bn-$8bn eastern section of the project is expected to begin at the end of this year with completion in 2019.

Abbott said East West link stage two would be under way by the end of 2015.

The 18km cross-city road connection will extend across Melbourne from the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road.

It is expected to save 15 to 20 minutes for motorists travelling from Geelong to Melbourne.

About 6200 jobs are expected to be created during its construction.

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